“Don’t Think Twice”

Improv proves surprisingly touching in a world where nothing lasts, and letting go is   exceedingly hard. Relationships are interwoven with ambition, love, and self-doubt. Throw in reproach, good cheer, and creative jealousy and we have our set for the  company of players called The Commune.

A professional coming-of-age film this may be, but at times it feels like a documentary. The ins and outs of fast-paced performance art is experienced along with the intimate feelings of  this New York troupe. The specific rules of improv are given as  three: always say ” yes”, never say “no” or over think, and “build with the group”. “Fall and then figure out what to do on the way down.”

The acting  is impeccable, the actors, themselves~ not so much so. Character flaws are real ,and jabs at them are honest. Truth-seeking and truth-telling are comedic here, but painful, too. Heartfelt struggling to live in the present is the film’s  focus. The Commune is losing its performance space and two of the six members have been hired by ” Live Tonight” ( akin to  the stellar ” Saturday Night Live”) . Change is forcing the troupe to recalibrate.

Mike Birbigilia writes, directs and stars. A year in the life of Miles ( Birbigilia), Jack (  Keegan Michael Key) , Allison (  Kate Muccucci  ), Samantha ( Gillian  Jacobs ), Lindsay ( Tami Sagher ), and Bill ( Chris Gethard )  rolls on. Their relationships both at work and otherwise are intertwined so closely that “group think” is mastered and sometimes stolen. Or can a part take the whole as his own? One cast member loses his father and another two un-couple. Break-ups and uncertainties reign, but so does acceptance and love.

“Has anyone had  a particularly hard day?”  is the query that begins each improv  sketch. Making a joke-filled scene is a way to get through life, or better yet to joyfully sail in the present. Here, I wish the sets were a tad wittier. The pace is  good, but the lines less than hysterical. The snarky criticisms are more fun. One of the player’s Irish accent sounds like a speech impediment.  Allison, also a fledgling cartoonist, has been nine years on her ” doodle book”. A dying man’s “thank you” is mocked.

Impersonations rock. Obama and Liam Nielson are Keegan Michael Key’s best. “I donate at the office for those who have to come home from their European trips early” is an example of constant understatement fun.

Existential in nature~ just being in the moment makes on-stage and off-stage change feverishly exhausting, just like life. “Putting the plane together when you are already in the sky” is also what the less strategic of us do. Improv lovers and  ” go with the flow livers”,  ” Don’t Think Twice” is a paen to you. My teaching friend, Jon Colby, take note!

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Christine Muller

Carrying a torch for film is what I have done for over forty years, thus the flambleau flamed when I was urged to start a blog. Saving suitcase loads of ticket stubs was no longer relevent so I had to change the game. Film has been important for me in the classroom and a respite for me outside of it. No other art form seems to edge the frayed seams of life as neatly as when a film is done well. I am happy that over one-hundred countries have citizens viewing my thoughts on Word Press, and a few leaving their own with me. Over thirteen hundred comments to date, and over three hundred films reviewed.

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